Monday, September 8, 2008

Deism and Despair

I've written about how I believe atheism leads to the despair of nihilism. But it occurred to me that deism must also lead to despair.

Deists acknowledge the existence of God, though I am hesitant to capitalize the god of deism. In deism god created the universe, but has now left it to run on its own. The analogy often used is of a watchmaker. This craftsperson creates a watch, but then leaves it to run on its own, without further interference.

But if god is deistic, then it appears he is indifferent to his creation, making him uncaring. This, then, would influence the moral attributes of god negatively for if he does not care then he is not loving, but distant and uncaring (i.e., unloving).

At best deism would then seem to be agnostic on the questions of hope or despair. Also, if we say we believe in god but state that he is indifferent to our situation, then the end result of such a worldview appears to end in the same trappings as atheism; namely, that we are on our own in a seemingly hostile universe.

Deism, then, logically leads to despair. A god who is transcendent, but not immanent (active) in his creation is, in the end, as good as a dead god or no god at all. Deism offers no real hope for redeeming the fallen human condition, overcoming evil, or offering providential direction for history. The god of deism is a mechanistic, stripped-down caricature of the God of theism.

I think most people who believe in "god" - and there are many - are probably functional deists. But it is theism that offers a personal, caring, active yet transcendent God who offers hope, not despair.

No comments: